Mechanisms of Neural Function & Dysfunction
Genetic and environmental factors that disrupt developmental processes either in the embryo or later in life can result in a range of disorders including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases that arise throughout the lifespan. Indeed, early defects in the development of the nervous system are associated with disorders like autism (affecting 1 in 68 US children) and many adult-onset neurological diseases are thought to have developmental antecedents.
The Mechanisms of Neural Function & Dysfunction research theme comprises a group of neuroscientists and developmental biologists from four different departments in the College of Natural Sciences whose individual research is focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying reproduction and embryonic development, the formation and function of the nervous system, and related disease processes.
In addition to studies with human subjects, the group employs a range of in vitro and in vivo model systems that allow the use of forward and reverse genetics, epigenetics, genomics, pharmacology, physiology, and behavioral assays to probe gene function in normal and disease states. Understanding both the normal and dysregulated processes that mediate these disorders is critical for the development of improved diagnostics and therapeutics.